The “comfort woman” statue in Sydney is being opposed by Japanese groups as it symbolizes the use of Korean women as sexual slaves by the Japanese army during the Second World War.
The statue was scheduled to be unveiled in the inner west of Sydney this week but the local Korean community and Sydney supporters are compelled to ban the same.
The statue, also called the “Statue of Peace”, has ignited the flame of the dispute between the Korean community and the Japanese community residing in Sydney. A representative of an established committee, lawyer Park Eun-deok, said that several threats came to Pastor Bill Crews from Japanese authorities as he provided a place for the statue in his church. They said they would sue him if he did not change his decision.
According to reports, the Japanese group said that the statue was a humiliation to the community and harmed multiculturalism in the society in Australia. Crews still agreed to give a place for the statue as it was “”related to human rights, justice and peace.”
The Japanese groups, however, refused to accept the claims. They said that they never used women as sex slaves in World War II, be it Korean, Dutch, Chinese or Aussie.
In 2015, South Korea and Japan signed an agreement in which Japan agreed to offer an apology along with compensation for “comfort women” who were still alive. Crews plans to construct the “comfort woman” statue in the Exodus Foundation’s garden in Ashfield in late 2016. The founder of The Exodus is Crews, and it is run by Uniting Church.
“I do not want history to be whitewashed,” he said. “I was called in to meet with New South Wales Multiculturalism Minister John Ajaka and the Japanese consul general in the Minister’s office last week, and Mr. Ajaka said we have a problem. The Japanese consul general had a problem with the term ‘comfort women’.”
Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the multi-culture minister said that the minister would hold a meeting between Crews and Japan’s consul-general so that the matter is discussed directly.
The ABC has obtained a letter from the Australia-Japan Community Network that was sent to the Canterbury-Bankstown Council in June 2016. According to the letter, the statue would be a legal breach under section 18C (1)(a) of the Commonwealth’s Racial Discrimination Act.
Korea Times stated that the first statue was built in front of Jongno’s Japanese Embassy in December 2011. Following that, around 30 more statues were constructed internationally, including in Korea, which made Sydney think about doing the same.